Denzel Washington’s Best Crime Thriller Is Taking Over Netflix

The Denzel Washington movie Inside Man is currently in Netflix's Top 10 most-watched movies.

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

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The Denzel Washington film Inside Man is in the Top 10 on Netflix this week. FlixPatrol shows the 2006 heist film, directed by Spike Lee, at number seven and as high as the number five spot for the week of April 7-13. The film’s impressive list of stars includes Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

As if that cast and Denzel Washington weren’t enough, Inside Man also features the late Christopher Plummer as Arthur Case. The neo-noir follows a bank heist-turned-hostage situation that threatens to reveal incriminating details about the history of the bank and Case, the bank’s founder and chairman of its board of directors. The revelation—that Case used Nazi money to found the bank, which he earned for services he provided to the Third Reich that resulted in the deaths of multiple Jews during World War II—is stored in a safe deposit box within the institution’s vault and becomes the center of a high-stakes standoff.

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Denzel Washington leads the cast of Inside Man as Detective Keith Frazier, who is attempting to stop Dalton Russell (Owen) from harming any of his hostages. Russell, meanwhile, is offered a substantial sum for the safe deposit box’s contents, via Case’s fixer Madeline White, played by Jodie Foster. The tense drama unfolds with each of these characters pursuing their own goals while the hostages are caught in the middle, all leading to an astonishing climax that rivals the best reveals in movie history.

It’s not clear why the Denzel Washington film is ranking so high this week, but Inside Man is also the title of a 2022 British miniseries starring David Tennant, Stanley Tucci, and Dolly Wells. It’s possible that multiple users searching for that production on the streaming service found the 2006 Spike Lee drama and told their friends about it, leading to an uptick in streams. The British series bears no connection to the film, as its plot concerns a US death row inmate and a woman being held captive in the cellar of an English vicarage whose lives extraordinarily intersect.

Denzel Washington’s Inside Man could be rising in popularity for any number of reasons, including the star’s action remake The Magnificent Seven having recently surged on streaming, but it’s worth taking this opportunity to view it again or for the first time on Netflix. The Spike Lee joint rose to the top of the box office on its opening weekend and became the director’s highest-grossing film, surpassing Malcolm X, which also starred Washington. And Lee has returned to directing recently for an Amazon Prime series, so that could also have led to the ratings spike.

Spike at the helm of the film, of course, has a long history with Denzel Washington apart from Inside Man. In addition to Malcolm X, the pair have collaborated on two other films: 1998’s He Got Game, which tells the story of the father of a basketball player who tries to convince his son to go to college to avoid a longer prison sentence, and the first Lee film in which Washington was cast, Mo’ Better Blues. The 1990 story of jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam was the acclaimed director’s follow-up to his breakout success, the now classic Do the Right Thing, a film that catapulted its young auteur to the heights of his profession, including NAACP Awards, multiple film critics awards, and even a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Lee, though the box office trophy still ultimately belonged to Inside Man.

A huge success for Denzel Washington as well, Inside Man took the top spot among the acclaimed actor’s highest-grossing films. His work alone is reason enough to see the film, but so is its unique and fascinating plot, along with Lee’s expert direction and the stellar performances of its heavyweight cast. If you enjoy intense drama, daring schemes, intrigue, bullet-sweating negotiations, mystery, suspense, and surprising twists and turns, don’t miss out on this riveting thriller.

While you’re at it, take a walk through the rest of Lee’s impressive filmography, not to mention Washington’s. From huge successes with classic status to smaller films that are impressive despite less buzz, you’ll be treated to films that explore important social issues and have exposed audiences to ideas, people, and places they might never have seen.